How To Choose The Best Rental Property For A Family

Before we bought and moved into this house we rented one nearby. It wasn’t the first time I had lived in rented accommodation, in fact it’s was the 6th property I have rented, but last time it was different because I was looking for a home not just for me, but my daughter too. 

You always have to make compromises when you are renting, but what you are prepared to put up with can be different when you will be living in a house with your children. Once you have decided what you can afford how do you choose from what is available? You can easily browse sites online like the Rent Hero Company to find exactly what you need.

A set of keys outside a blue front door
The key to choosing the right family rental property

Tips for Choosing A Good Rental Property For A Family

The Decor and Condition Of The Property

When you buy a home the decor and condition matter less because you can make home improvements over time, but when renting you need the property (and garden) to be something you can live with. Yes many landlords will allow you to make changes with their permission, but you need to consider how much effort (and money) you want to invest in a property when you don’t know how long you will be living there. You might love the place and want to stay forever, but the landlord can decide to sell the house at any time or put the rent up meaning it’s no longer an option for you.

On the flipside, while it is lovely to move into a newly decorated property living in a home with a family means the property will get a high level of wear and tear. A reasonable about of wear is expected, but I preferred moving into a house with a few marks on the carpet and walls already. Brand new cream carpet could be an endless battle to keep clean for instance. Once properly recorded for evidence incase of a dispute later it meant I could relax knowing the landlord would be less worried about a few more marks appearing.

Landlords should have insurance to protect them so you don’t have to pay for accidents, if they don’t have any you might want to suggest they compare landlord insurance, it might be cheaper than they think. You shouldn't normally need to cover any of their property (like white goods) on your contents insurance.

How safe is it?

The age of your children will make a big difference to how safe the property is for them, but things to think about are: are there steps into the house or in the garden? can you easily put up stairgates on the main stairs (this is easier with some banister designs than others), is the is garden secure enough that they can play in there without escaping? Is the oven at floor level or raised? Are the banister rails secure and suitably spaced? Are there locks on doors that little fingers might choose to use? Are upstairs windows lockable?

Parking and Access

If there is a drive then that is ideal, but if not how far from the house could you need to park? It might be easy to park when you visit, but is it the same at different times of day and all days of the week? Having to navigate multiple bags of shopping and a small child or two into the house is a big challenge, and even harder if you have to park some distance away of there are steps. Steps are also really challenging if you want to take the pushchair in and out of the house regularly.

Do You Want A Hallway?

If you have a pushchair it can be really useful to have a hallway big enough to leave the pushchair in. Some houses we viewed the front door opened straight into the living room which isn’t helpful for storage or for answering the door to the postman when your child is running around naked.

How Many Bathrooms?

If you have one or more children then having multiple toilets is really helpful. I can’t count the number of times I have sat down on the loo only for a child to come running in desperate for a wee. Thank goodness I have good pelvic floor control!

Ideally you will also want to have a bathtub because although there are work arounds with baby baths in shower cubicles it is much easier to have a bath.

What Is The Best Location?

If your child is at school and you don’t want them to change school then you will need to choose a property a distance that you are happy to travel twice a day. If they are older and can go to school on their own you will want to think if the route is one you are happy for them to walk or if there is a bus route there.

If your child is coming up to school age you will need to think about the schools near to the property. In most areas primary schools are over subscribed so they prioritise entry on several measures including how close to the school you are (or catchment area).

It you urgently need somewhere to live it can be stressful and you might be tempted to sign up to anywhere just to make sure you have something, but think about if those compromises are really ones you are happy to take. I have signed up with landlords before that have been a bit questionable just to get somewhere, always know your rights as a tenant

***Disclosure: this is a collaborative post***

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